Australian news, and some related international items

Morrison puts lipstick on Tony Abbott’s pig of a climate policy — RenewEconomy

Scott Morrison re-badges Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy and calls it something which it is not: A Climate Solutions package. The post Morrison puts lipstick on Tony Abbott’s pig of a climate policy appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Morrison puts lipstick on Tony Abbott’s pig of a climate policy — RenewEconomy

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear summit between Trump and Kim offers hope of an end to the Korean War

Korean War could be declared over at Trump-Kim summit, says South Korea   There’s an upbeat tone that a formal declaration ending the Korean War could be made at the Hanoi summit this week. SBS News 25 Feb 19,    Hopes that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War at the Hanoi summit rose Monday, after South Korea said the two leaders could reach an agreement.

The devastating conflict between communist North Korea, backed by China, and the capitalist South, aided by the United States, ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving Pyongyang and Washington still technically at war.

“I believe that the possibility is there,” the South’s presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters about a formal declaration.

“There is no way of knowing what kind of declaration it might be, but I believe the US and North Korea may reach an agreement.”

President Moon Jae-in said in October “it was only a matter of time” before Washington and Pyongyang declared an end to the war.

The US has also struck an upbeat tone. Stephen Biegun, the US special envoy for North Korea, said earlier this month that Trump was “ready to end this war”, fuelling speculation that the formal end of the conflict may be near.

Kim, the leader of North Korea, is due to meet the US president in the Vietnamese capital on Wednesday and Thursday, where it is hoped the pair will make progress in talks on denuclearisation, and a possible peace treaty……..

President Trump says he would be happy as long as North Korea maintains its pause on weapons testing, and he is in no rush to strike a nuclear deal with Kim Jong-un. …..

February 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Slick talk by Scott Morrison – but the government’s “climate policy” is still pro coal, not effective against global warming

If the Coalition has had a climate epiphany, I’m Beyoncé, Guardian Katharine Murphy 25 Feb 19, Call the emissions reduction fund a ‘climate solutions’ fund if you like, but it doesn’t mean it is.

Let’s start with the good news. Scott Morrison is talking constructively about climate change because he is intelligent enough to understand that failing to do that renders the Coalition unelectable in parts of the country, and with parts of its own base.

Compared with where we’ve been, a Liberal prime minister standing up at a podium, accepting the science of climate change and making the case for action, is progress.

We need to acknowledge it.

But this isn’t, ultimately, a test of talking points.

It has to be a test of substance, and a test of whether or not you are prepared to be a grown-up government facing up to a significant policy problem – and the truth is the Coalition has been here before.

Right on this spot.

John Howard had a very similar epiphany in 2007, delivering a speech in Melbourne within sight of an election in much the same way Morrison did on Monday. Like Morrison, Howard knew the Coalition needed to switch course on climate policy because Australians then, like now, were fretting about extreme weather and the droughts that never seemed to end.

Howard signed the Liberal party up to emissions trading during his 2007 pivot. But after he lost the election to Kevin Rudd, madness descended inside the Coalition, and raged in full public view for a decade, with that madness killing most of the optimal policy solutions for dealing with emissions reduction.

While Morrison would like us to think that was all a bit of a bad dream, and the Coalition has actually been tremendous on climate policy despite all the compelling evidence to the contrary, the truth is the madness still defines the parameters of the policy.

Monday’s climate policy pivot reflects Morrison’s limited options. He’s unveiled a reboot of Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy, kicking in more cash to the emissions reduction fund (although the cash only pans out at $200m a year), and giving it a new business card.

This mechanism will deliver some abatement, a significant chunk according to the government’s own projections, but the persistent question over the ERF as a mechanism (apart from why taxpayers have to pay, as opposed to big polluters) has always been whether it delivers any abatement beyond what would have happened anyway………

Just one more problem. You also have to line up Monday’s “climate solutions” pivot with the climate problem the government will create for itself if it proceeds to lock in more coal-fired power to Australia’s energy grid, underwritten by taxpayers, which is what the energy minister, Angus Taylor, keeps hinting he wants to do.

In order to hit reset on climate policy in a way that has some prospect of cutting through with the cohort of voters inclined to desert the government over this issue, and this issue alone, Morrison needed to do two things on Monday.

He needed to say sorry for all of that insanity. He needed to say I don’t know what came over us, but we aren’t going to do that again.

Prime ministers can do that in two ways. The first is to just say it, but that’s very hard for risk-averse politicians who equate public acts of humility with public acts of weakness.

The second is do it by implication: put forward a serious policy program that is an implicit apology for past misdeeds, and in so doing, project that you are prepared to stare down any internal brinkmanship that ensues.

That didn’t happen on Monday, and it didn’t happen on Monday because we all know what happens when the Coalition hits these particular tipping points.

Just ask Malcolm Turnbull.


February 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Nukes Are No Answer To Climate Crisis 


February 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A successful indigenous fight against nuclear waste dumping

Fight against nuclear waste dump remembered at Ward Valley Spiritual Gathering By GENTRY MEDRANO Director, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe Public Relations Department, 25 Feb 19, 

    NEEDLES — The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe hosted the 21st annual Ward Valley Spiritual Gathering on Feb. 16.

FMIT, along with supporters from the other five tribes along the Colorado River and environmental activists and allies, gathered to commemorate a 113-day occupation that led to defeating a proposal for a nuclear waste dump at Ward Valley.

In addition to honoring the individuals and organizations for the hard work, courage and dedication they brought to the successful occupation, the event was also a remembrance filled with songs from the Fort Mojave Tribal Band, traditional Bird Singing and Dancing, a Spirit Run, tributes, recognition and a history of Ward Valley.

In 1998 the occupation of the proposed dump site by the five river tribes: the Fort Mojave, Chemehuevi, Quechan, Cocopah and Colorado River Indian Tribes; along with environmental activists, took place at the Ward Valley site to fight and stop the proposed dump.

The resistance efforts prevented law enforcement from the Bureau of Land Management from entering the site, effectively stopping any test drilling or development.

Protesting that the waste dump would have desecrated sacred land, the tribes and activists prevailed when the U.S. Department of the Interior rescinded an eviction notice and canceled the test drilling.

The Interior Department terminated all actions regarding the Ward Valley dump proposal on Nov. 2, 1999, ending the fight with victory for the tribes and activists.

Ward Valley is about 25 miles west of Needles along Interstate 40 at Water Road

February 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

February 25 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “The Osborne Effect On The Auto Industry” • A perfect storm is brewing above the automotive industry, as three hardly grasped phenomena are working together. They are the Osborne effect of delayed demand, the downward curve of technology costs, and the S-curve that describes market acceptance of new technologies. [CleanTechnica] ¶ “Morrison Puts […]

via February 25 Energy News — geoharvey

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation plan only makes sense when coal retires — RenewEconomy

Scott Morrison should be careful what he prays for: fast-tracking the Tasmania battery of the nation project only makes sense if Australia fast-tracks the exit of coal generation and lifts emission cuts to 50% by 2030. The post Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation plan only makes sense when coal retires appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation plan only makes sense when coal retires — RenewEconomy

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kimba and Hawker communities kept in the dark about the dangers of hosting nuclear wastes

Risk of terrorism at radioactive waste site kept secret from residents near earmarked sites, Jade Gailberger, Federal Political Reporter, The Advertiser February 24, 2019  

The risk of terrorist activity at a radioactive waste site, including the removal of drums for use in a “dirty bomb”, has been kept secret from residents near two sites earmarked for a new national dump.
As the communities of Hawker and Kimba remain divided on the site selection for a new waste site, documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws reveal the Defence Department identified a potential risk of terrorist activity at a dump at Woomera.
The revelation has cemented the security concerns of residents, who say they have been ignored by Government officials.

The now closed Koolymilka dump, situated on Defence land at Woomera, was licensed for temporary radioactive waste storage but has not taken new material since 2010.

An emergency response plan for the site, which still houses waste that is anticipated to be transferred to a national facility, details scenarios that may affect it including:

    • TERRORISTS removing drums to make a “dirty bomb”.
    • MISSILE and aircraft strikes, fire, flood or a storm in Woomera that could damage the building and cause contamination if drums ruptured.
    • CIVILIAN protest activity.

Defence has said it has no responsibility to inform the public of the risks because the new waste dump is an Industry Department project.

Kimba farmer Peter Woolford, who is opposed to radioactive waste storage on agricultural land, said security, terrorism and fire concerns at a national site had been raised but “fobbed off” by officials who claimed it “would be safe”.
“The (Industry) Department continually says it is going to be open and transparent but you have to obtain FOI documents to get the full story,” he said. “It’s an issue that the department should be … explaining.”

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick said communities had been denied information needed to make an informed decision about a dump in their region.
At a Senate estimates hearing last week, Mr Patrick asked if the Industry Department had briefed the communities about potential terrorism. Industry Minister Matt Canavan said: “I have never been provided with any advice that this is at all a risk … this has never been raised as an issue”.
The Industry Department said the new dump would pose “no security or safety risk to the community” and “significant detail” on safety and security had been made public.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation said 14 of 45 jobs at the new dump would be security.

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison uses taxpayer money to cut emissions – and underwrite coal-fire power

Morrison tries to play both sides of climate debate  Financial Review , 24 Feb 19, 

As of today, the federal government will be using taxpayer dollars to cut emissions and keep the left happy while, to keep the right happy, underwriting new coal fired power…. (Subscribers only )

February 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Morrison govt stalls Australia’s first offshore wind farm

Australia’s first offshore wind farm being stalled by Morrison Government

Development of Australia’s first offshore wind farm, which would power up to 1.2 million homes, has been stalled by Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s failure to sign off on an exploration license allowing a detailed assessment of the wind resource to commence.

Development of Australia’s first offshore wind farm, which would power up to 1.2 million homes, has been stalled by Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s failure to sign off on an exploration license allowing a detailed assessment of the wind resource to commence.

The Department of the Environment and Energy confirmed during Senate Estimates that an evaluation of the project has been undertaken, a plan for a customised exploration license developed, and a briefing and recommendations provided to the Energy Minister, but that the project can progress no further without the Minister granting the exploration license.

The Star of the South project seeks to construct 250 wind turbines in Commonwealth waters off the coast of Victoria’s Gippsland region, generating up to 20 per cent of Victoria’s electricity needs and feeding the power into the National Electricity Market via an underground cable to the Latrobe Valley.

The Maritime Union of Australia said the project — which the company claims will create up to 12,000 manufacturing and construction jobs and slash Australia’s carbon emissions — appeared to be falling victim to the Morrison Government’s ideological hatred of renewable energy.

MUA Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey said the exploration license awaiting approval did not allow construction to commence and was simply about allowing the use of floating buoys and platforms off the Gippsland coast to gather wind and wave observations.

“We have a major wind project that would create thousands of jobs and provide clean, reliable energy for more than a million Australian households, but because of their ideological hatred of renewable energy the Morrison Government appears to be actively stalling its development,” Mr Tracey said.

“The Star of the South project has been in the works since 2012, yet in this time no legislation has been put forward, no regulatory framework put in place, and no responsible agency nominated, despite offshore wind being an established industry internationally.

“Now we have revelations from Senate Estimates that Energy Minister Angus Taylor has been briefed on the project and presented with recommendations, yet the exploration license continues to sit on his desk gathering dust.

“Rather than support renewable energy projects, under the Morrison Government we can’t even get approval for a few wind measurement buoys off the Gippsland coast.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor must get off his hands and immediately allow the Star of the South wind project to move forward to the exploration stage.”

Mr Tracey said offshore wind generation was a mature industry internationally which has successfully operated for two decades, but Australia was falling behind, putting future employment opportunities at risk.

“This project isn’t just about generating renewable energy and tackling climate change, it’s about creating secure jobs for the future, particularly for workers who are being displaced from the offshore oil and gas industries,” he said.

“The Federal Government urgently needs to put in place a plan to support the development of the offshore wind industry, including a clear regulatory framework, along with the right port infrastructure and specialised construction vessels to roll out this project and others like it as quickly as possible.”

February 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, wind | Leave a comment

Some of the 1,156 low lying Marshall Islands to be ‘elevated’ because of climate change

Climate change forces low-lying Marshall Islands to ‘elevate islands’,   Climate change has left the low-lying Marshall Islands with little choice but to consider drastic measures., 24 Feb 19, The far-flung Marshall Islands needs to raise its islands if it is to avoid being drowned by rising sea levels, President Hilda Heine has warned. 

Plans are underway for national talks on which of the 1,156 islands, scattered over 29 coral atolls, can be elevated in a dramatic intervention to ensure safety on the islands.

“Raising our islands is a daunting task but one that must be done,” Heine said in an interview with the Marshall Islands Journal published Friday.

“We need the political will, and especially traditional leaders’ commitment, to see this through.

“We must come together as a nation as this is about our survival as a nation, as a people and as a culture.”

A “climate crisis” policy document prepared by the office of the chief secretary painted a bleak outlook for the Pacific Ocean archipelago with a population of 55,000. 

It cited an increasing frequency of “inundation events, severe droughts, coral bleaching events, and… looking forward, there is very good reason to believe that conditions and prospects for survival will only worsen.”

Most of the islands are less than two metres (6.5 feet) above sea level and the government believes physically raising the islands was the only way to save the Marshall Islands from extinction.

They have not yet outlined specifics of  how this would be achieved expect to have plans formulated by the end of the year. In the meantime, they are keeping a close watch on the ambitious City of Hope project on an artificial island in the Maldives as a viable option.

To lay the foundations of the city – which is expected to accommodate 130,000 people when completed in 2023 – sand is being pumped onto reefs from surrounding atolls and it is being fortified with walls three metres above sea level, which will make it higher than the tallest natural island in the Maldives.

“Whatever approach is selected, it will involve selecting islands to raise, add to, or build upon” Heine said.

“All Marshallese stakeholders, but especially traditional landowners, need to be at the forefront of this discussion if we are ever going to move the conversation forward.”

The Marshall Islands also aims to increase engagement with the three other all-atoll nations – Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Maldives – on climate issues.

“As a group, the atoll nations need to come together to formulate their unique concerns and develop their positions and plans and identify financial needs related to climate impacts,” said Heine, who chairs the Coalition of Atoll Nations Against Climate Change.

February 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Climate change becoming a hot issue for New South Wales election

‘Everyone loves solar’: Climate action heats up as NSW election issue, Brisbane Times By Peter Hannam February 23, 2019 NSW voters, including conservative ones, want the state government to step up action on climate change, including boosting renewable energy, two separate polling sets show.

A statewide Essential survey conducted February 6-11 for the Nature Conservation Council of 544 respondents found 51 per cent were more likely to back a party boosting clean energy and 18 per cent less likely. Among those identifying as Liberal or National supporters, the ratio was 43 per cent in favour and a quarter against.

Three separate uComms surveys for Greenpeace, each of more than 600 respondents conducted in marginal seats of Ballina, Coogee, and Penrith, found higher support for renewable energy.

In Penrith, for instance, 60 per cent of Liberal voters said they were more likely to support a party investing in renewables and 30.7 per cent less likely. In Coogee, 52.1 per cent of Liberal voters were more likely to back a party with such policies, and 38.6 per cent against.

In Ballina, 65 per cent of National supporters agreed rooftop solar and batteries would cut household power bills for homeowners and renters, while 32.8 per cent disagreed.

The polling comes amid another torrid period of extremes. NSW smashed heat records in January, with temperatures almost six degrees about average and two degrees above the previous record set in bushfire-scorched January 1939.

Much of the state remains in severe drought – with 2019 off to a dry start amid rainfall levels typically less than a fifth of normal levels – sending reservoir levels tumbling and contributing to a series of mass fish kills and algal bloom outbreaks in the Darling and other rivers.

While climate scientists have yet to determine the role climate change is having, the background warming of more than a degree over the past century across Australia is raising the likelihood of heatwaves. Climate models also point to a long-term drying trend across southern Australia, including NSW, with more to come.

No policy’

The onus to demonstrate action to tackle climate change appears to fall heavier on the Coalition if the polling and last December’s federal byelection for the Sydney seat of Wentworth are any guide, Kate Smolski, chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, said.

“Voters deserted the Liberals in Wentworth over climate change, and [this month’s] poll shows that it’s a statewide phenomenon,” Ms Smolski said.

“This is bad news for the Berejiklian government, which after eight years of Coalition rule still doesn’t have a climate change policy or a renewable energy target.”……..

the Greens plan to introduce a carbon change bill, including a broad carbon price, to reach the net-zero emissions goal by 2040.

“We need targets with teeth if we are going to actually decarbonise,” Cate Faehrmann, Greens environment spokeswoman, said. “That is why I have developed legislation which sets binding targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2040 and gives ordinary citizens the power to prosecute government ministers who are not serious about meeting these targets.”

Jeremy Buckingham, the former Greens and now independent MP, said policies are needed to tackle emissions from agriculture, industry and transport.

“Everyone loves solar panels, so we get policies focused on popular renewable energy, but with only a few years left to act, we need comprehensive policies to decarbonise all sectors rapidly, even if they are politically challenging,” he said.

February 25, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change threatening the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River

The Sea of Galilee: A Sea of Miracles Disappearing

Where Jesus once preached, the holy waters are draining away,  Climate change and conflict have left the river Jordan a stagnant stream and the Sea of Galilee critically low, Guardian, Oliver Holmes Sun 24 Feb 2019  

Once a raging torrent, the lower Jordan has been starved of water to become a stagnant stream, filled with sewage and dirty run-off from farms. Around 95% of its historical flow has been diverted by agriculture during the past half-century. And the river’s primary source, the Sea of Galilee – where Christians believe the son of God walked on water – has for years been dammed to prevent its demise.

Biblical bodies of water in the Holy Land, eternalised in Christian, Jewish and Muslim ancient texts as godly, are now facing very human threats: climate change, mismanagement and conflict.

Following five consecutive years of drought, the Sea of Galilee has sunk to a 100-year low. A number of small islands have emerged at the water’s surface, and several holiday homes that were built on the shoreline now stand at least 100 metres from the boggy edge.

Overuse has also taken its toll. Last summer, the level of the lake dropped close to a black line, a level at which it could lose its status as a freshwater body. “The black line is our best guess of that point,” says Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of EcoPeace, an organisation of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmentalists. “It was tens of centimetres above the black line,” he says, adding that such a shallow depth has not been seen in records taken over the past century.

As the lake’s level falls, it cannot wash away salt fast enough, and its salinity rises. If the Sea of Galilee’s waters were left to hover around the black line, its flora and fauna would start to perish. A glimpse of the lake’s grim future might be seen 350km downriver at the lowest place on the planet: the Dead Sea, a body almost devoid of fish and plant life. “Once the lake becomes saline, that could be irreversible,” says Bromberg, speaking at the muddy edge of the water, reeds poking up behind him………

As long as the Sea of Galilee is under threat, the river Jordan will be too. And their eventual deaths could have explosive ramifications as water in this region has been a key source of conflict. The river Jordan is shared by Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan and Syria, all of which use its depleting reserves………

EcoPeace hopes that good water management will spur on peace to the region. Bromberg is now advocating for a deal in which Israel, which is on the Mediterranean, supplies desalinated water to Jordan. In exchange, Jordan, which is low on water but full of open desert with 320 sunny days a year, will supply solar power.

In the meantime, the river Jordan remains polluted. Most Christian pilgrims who want to be baptised in the holy waters do not venture to the original sitewhere John the Baptist is believed to have led Jesus into the water. That location is in the occupied Palestinian territories next to Jordan, and the Israeli army mined it decades ago. Pilgrims were only allowed to return some years ago………

February 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New South Wales election – an opportunity to vote in politicians who care about our health and environment

NSW election: our chance to vote 1 for climate and health, Croakey,  Editor: Mark Ragg Author: John Van Der KallenJohn Van Der Kallen is a rheumatologist and the NSW Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia. February 21, 2019 The Lancet has described tackling climate change as the ‘greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.’ The upcoming NSW election is one of those opportunities to improve our health, but we need to vote for politicians who will take climate change seriously.

February 25, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Labor still might veto Adani’s coal mine expansion

Adani veto still on the cards The Australian 24 Feb 19

Tony Burke has refused to rule out using green laws to veto the Adani project if Labor wins power…… (subscribers only)

February 25, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment